5 Tips on How to Live with Non-Engineering Roommates

This post was written by the Public Relations director, Haley Berner.

1. Stop Stereotyping.
You chose Purdue because of the “world renowned” engineering degree you will
(hopefully) walk away with a few years from now. But, you only chose to study
engineering because you like problem solving. You only chose to study
engineering because you like to design things and innovation is practically your
middle name. You only chose to study engineering because you became the
house technician at age six. You only chose to study engineering because you
tutored high school seniors in basic algebra when you were only fourteen. As an
engineering student, you have no soft skills and you are athletically incapable.
You despise social situations and are extremely introverted. You have no sense
of fashion and your weekends consist of relentless video-gaming. All of these
descriptions match you perfectly, right? There can’t be a single description
mentioned that doesn’t fit you since you’re a stereotypical engineer. Am I
wrong? Yes. In fact, I am horribly wrong. You might have never played video
games and you might love socializing on the weekends. Now, take a minute to
think about all of the stereotypes you have accumulated about your non-
engineering roommate. Just as you want to be given a fair shot to explain why
you actually chose engineering, give your roommate a fair shot to explain why
she didn’t.

2. Practice “Parental” Patience.
Let’s face it. We love our parents, but it can get extremely frustrating when they
continually ask why the “zoom” function isn’t working on Instagram. Or when
they accidentally minimize a webpage and frantically complain that the “icloud”
must have deleted their google search… Even though you might know exactly
how to fix you roommate’s word document margins in a single click, remember
that you specialize in technology. Realize that it might take a little more
explanation for her to completely understand how to reformat the document.
Plus, if you show your non-engineering roommate how to format her document
patiently, she might remember how to do it herself next time!

3. Intentionally Investigate.
Sometimes, it is easy to assume that non-engineering majors are drastically
different than you; a hopeless cause for finding common ground. However, you
might be surprised to find that you have similar interests and hobbies when you
make the effort to ask her questions. Even if you don’t find much in common,
there are plenty of opportunities to branch out and learn novel hobbies and
participate in unusual activities. Besides, college is all about experiencing new

4. Modify (Multitudinous) Midnights.
Yes, all of your engineering friends know that Matlab coding can take hours upon
hours to produce an error-proof code, but your non-engineering roommate
probably doesn’t. Most likely, she won’t need to stay up all night to complete
her homework. But whether or not she appreciates the long hours you put into
your engineering deliverable, be aware of how late you are keeping on the lights
and the volume of your “chill vibes” Spotify playlist. Remember, we have 24-
hour on-campus libraries for a reason!

5. Cultivate Crucial Communication.

It may be hard to imagine when you are in class with mostly all engineering
majors all day, but the workplace is a melting pot of professionals with a
plethora of undergraduate backgrounds. It is highly likely that you will work a
non-engineering major daily once you enter the industry. When asked what it
takes to make new college graduates employable, a special report by
The Chronicle of Higher Education  noted, “When it comes to the skills most
needed by employers, job candidates are lacking most in written and oral
communication skills…” One of the most important skills an engineering major
can develop is effective communication. So what better way to practice those
skills than to communicate with your non-engineering roommate? When
conflicts arise between you and your roommate about the immense clutter or
unequal sharing of clothes, go the extra mile to talk it out. Although it might
seem easier to just keep quiet and avoid addressing the tension, remember that
you are gaining valuable experience in communication that will undoubtedly
benefit you beyond graduation.


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